Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Met A. S. King -- one cool human

Why take a gander at that everyone! You know how I gushed and oohed and ahhed at PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ a mere four days ago? Well I went all fangirl at the Exton Mall on Saturday when I got to meet A.S. King.

Let me say this - she's as cool as I thought she would be. If you haven't read her book, would you please, so then you'll know what I'm talking about. No one uncool would be able to write Vera D - it would be a scientific impossibility. Sort of like Slash being a nerd - you know - not possible.

She was genuine and funny, laid back and kind. It was really, really a great experience.

Now go buy her book. Go on. You'll thank me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Please Ignore Vera Dietz


Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?


Remember when I gushed on and on about THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE? No? Then click HERE to refresh your memory.

Well I just finished the book above and I loved it -- but for completely different reasons. A. S. King absolutely nails what I like to call -- the real American teenager. Never once, and I honestly mean never, did I do an eye roll and say, "Oh please...that is soooo the author talking." If you follow my blog, you already know how I feel about that -- how I like my authors to be quiet and let their characters do the talking. And talking about talking, this book had rich and authentic dialogue. No hollow dialogue there, only brilliant and witty writing.

I finished the book in two days. It's that good. Get your hands on a copy and meet Vera (you're going to absolutely love her personality - her depth - her vulnerability...her). Meet Charlie (oh wait until you meet Charlie - he is Jordan Catalano from My So Called Life - at least that's how I pictured him - hot, messy and tortured). Meet the Pagoda. Uh huh. The Reading Pagoda has a few chapters written in first person. Genius. Absolute genius.

King also is wicked with her plotting -- she weaves in and out of past and present with absolute ease on the reader and the mystery of Charlie's death is slowly and meticulously revealed one deliciously painful layer at a time.

Yeah, I cried at the end. Cried for Charlie. Cried that it was over.

This book is right up there with THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE STORY OF A PART TIME INDIAN and LOOKING FOR ALASKA and THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE -- which are all spot on contemporary YA -- which equals honest and extremely well written.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

# Kindness is ContagEous

On October 7th I warned of my unleashing. Click HERE to read.

Then, on October 8th I Tweeted over 50 tweets, in a row, on the subjects of tolerance, kindness and compassion with the hashtag: #kindnessiscontageous

After I tweeted my last tweet I noticed my flagrant misspelling of the word contagious. E instead of I...over and over again. Whatev. That's just how I am - spelling sometimes escapes me in very public ways.

Anyway, a few nights ago, Beyonce's sister, Solange Knowles tweeted her thoughts on bullying and I tried to lead her to the #kindnessiscontageous tweet stream...AND THEY WERE ALL GONE! Apparently I don't know how to keep a hashtag going. Which sucks.

I had an idea. I could post the tweets here, for public reading.

Please look past the E as you read. You'll get used to it.

Please share this post with anyone you think may benefit. Please.

Oh and evidently I am SOOOOOOOO on the money about kindness being contagious. Read all about it HERE.


#kindnessiscontageous So it begins. Can you stay with me, Twitter? Every 30 seconds…until I’m spent.

#kindnessiscontageous So, I promised last night that I was going to unleash today…

#kindnessiscontageous So, I’ve read a ton of hideous things in the news about bullying and the even more hideous consequences…

#kindnessiscontageous So, cruelty is real and has YOUNG human faces. And I have a lot to say about it.

#kindnessiscontageous So, I’ve read a fantastic opinion post on the subject from author Jay Asher:

#kindnessiscontageous So, I feel compelled to share my thoughts.I have a lot of them.They are from a former teacher & Camp Kindness owner.

#kindnessiscontageous So, who am I? I taught for 10ys in a public middle school & taught second grade for 2ys.Bullying was apparent each yr.

#kindnessiscontageous So, I made teaching kindness and compassion JOB #1 in my former middle school classroom. Job #1.

#kindnessiscontageous So teaching children kindness & compassion was the foundation of my classroom. Without it we were all just existing.

#kindnessiscontageous Some kids came to me every yr as jerks, full of rage, bullies, turds, out of control, heartless, racist, homophobic.

#kindnessiscontageous And I knew (and believed) it was my duty–as an “adult of influence” in their lives–I had to teach them ALL to be kind.

#kindnessiscontageous I KNOW I am not alone in this thinking.

#kindnessiscontageous When “Alex” called “Sam” a fag I had to put the chalk down & address the human beings in my presence. How could I NOT?

#kindnessiscontageous When “Ashley” called “Kell” an elephant I had to shine the light on everyone could learn kindness.

#kindnessiscontageous When “Ted” called “Chris” the N-word there was NO WAY I was turning away from that…not when minds could be changed.

#kindnessiscontageous When the autistic kid got snickered at behind his back I had to have a meaningful conversation with the snicker’ers.

#kindnessiscontageous Teachers: We are with our students almost every weekday for nine months...

#kindnessiscontageous Teachers: We are presented with countless opportunities to revolutionize our student’s minds. To INSPIRE them.

#kindnessiscontageous Teachers: It IS the teacher’s job to remove the obstacles of cruelty &hatred in a way that lessons are learned by all.

#kindnessiscontageous Teachers:Without a safe environment, learning feels like a monumental task, that hill you just can’t get your bike up.

#kindnessiscontageous Teachers: The power isn’t in the time it takes but in the feelings the conversation/discussion evokes.

#kindnessiscontageous Teachers: Imagine the power that lies in healthy discussion coupled with an impressionable child.

#kindnessiscontageous We Adults have to open our eyes…open our ears. We can NOT turn away and think someone else will address it.

#kindnessiscontageous See…children have to be taught how to be kind and compassionate. It doesn’t come naturally to many.

#kindnessiscontageous Taught by the adults in their life. Parents. Teachers. Coaches. Aunts. Uncles. Grandparents.

#kindnessiscontageous When ADULTS show kindness through example…that leaves a lasting impression upon children. By example, everyone.

#kindnessiscontageous Bullies must understand potential consequences of their bullying behavior. How, you ask?

#kindnessiscontageous …by thoughtfully crafted, age appropriate experiences/discussions allowing them feel or understand the victim’s pain.

#kindnessiscontageous The adults in children’s lives have the RESPONSIBILITY to discuss potential consequences of bullying behavior.

#kindnessiscontageous By adults I mean parents–teachers–coaches–principals–aunts–uncles–gparents. How can you not teach about compassion?

#kindnessiscontageous I don’t want to hear the excuse: it isn’t “my” responsibility. I dismiss that 100%. Whose responsibility is it then?

#kindnessiscontageous Everyday statements, moments & interactions arise when human beings are together; moments that need addressing.

#kindnessiscontageous Adults must make time to explicitly teach kindness and compassion. No excuses, because there aren’t any good enough.

#kindnessiscontageous Adults: Take the risk and talk about kindness with the children in your life. Be uncomfortable. Force yourself.

#kindnessiscontageous Christina Lee: When I was a teacher, there were hundreds of "teachable moments" in a day. Most of all, I taught not to hate or judge!

#kindnessiscontageous Adults: If YOU were a bully…now is the time to make it right. Talk to the children in your life about compassion.

#kindnessiscontageous Adults: Buck the system. Go out on a limb. Abandon your fears. Shut your inner voice up & go save/influence a life.

#kindnessiscontageous Adults: TALK TO THE CHILDREN IN YOUR LIFE about how bullying affects the other human being.

#kindnessiscontageous Adults: SHOW THE CHILDREN IN YOUR LIFE what kindness looks like.

#kindnessiscontageous Adults: SHOW THE CHILDREN IN YOUR LIFE what kindness sounds like.

#kindnessiscontageous Christina Lee: With my child, we talk about all of the prejudice he's already witnessing: race, sexual orientation, weight and age.

#kindnessiscontageous Adults: SHOW THE CHILDREN IN YOUR LIFE what kindness feels like.

#kindnessiscontageous Adults: The next tweets will be discussion questions to ask the children in your life. Get the discussion started…

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself – what do I really get from making another human being feel awful? Is it really worth it?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself – would I want to feel the way my victim is feeling right now? No? Then why do I do it?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself – why can’t I accept people who are different from me?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself – what makes me intentionally rip people’s hearts out with my words and actions? Why do I do it?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself – why do I feel the need to say hurtful/degrading/evil things to a fellow human being?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself –do I make nasty faces at other people? Do I snicker? Point and laugh? Guess what? That hurts too.

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself – why am I so angry?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself – what would make me stop bullying?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself – how can I make things right with the human beings I’ve bullied?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself – how would I feel if someone I bullied decided to end their life…because of me?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself – do I need to talk to an adult about what I’ve done/said to other human beings?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself – have I ever just let bullying happen in my presence? Why didn’t I stop it?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Ask yourself – if I see bullying happen in my presence and I want to stop it…HOW can I actually do that?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS:Ask yourself–have I ever tried to put myself in the victim’s shoes? Feel their pain, humiliation, embarrassment?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Think About – You can’t be good friends with everyone. But you CAN treat everyone with dignity & respect.

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Think About – What would the world be like if we humans were all completely identical? Would you like it?

#kindnessiscontageous KIDS: Think About -You can't be a good person if you don't think of other people and their feelings; plain and simple.

#kindnessiscontageous And that is all for today.

Too bad I spelled contagious wrong all morning on my #kindnessiscontagEous tweet fest. That is so me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

SCBWI Magazine...mangled

Picture this if you will. I pull up to the mailbox at the end of my driveway after a long, arduous day at work, pop it open, shuffle through the usual bills and pizza deals and what to my wondering eyes does appear but the beloved five letters...


Be still my heart. It was their magazine. Which I love to read cover to cover snuggled underneath my blankets. And this reading was going to have special/significant meaning to me, for it would've been my first reading as an agented writer. My heart fluttered. I smiled.
And then I pulled it out from underneath the catalog and this is what I found...
I quickly got over the mangled'ness of it and thought, oh well, I can still read the good stuff inside. At least it still had the inside -- even though it was completely removable. No biggie. I brought it into the house and put it on the stairs -- which is my own private resting place for things I plan to read that night. Night came and went and I grabbed my crinkled and decrepit magazine and headed up. I got all settled and comfy and read the outside back cover first. I smiled again. This was going to be good.

I opened it and found this:
And this!!!!The whole entire inside of the magazine was ripped out and stuffed with a cruel, cruel impostor...a fake, phony, a nothing!!! A Microsoft mailing.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An Interview Over on Jared Larson's blog

Fellow writer, Jared Larson, kindly asked for a blog interview.

Check it out HERE!

Thanks again for the cool questions, Jared.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Power of Crtique

In my last post I equaled your writing to your child -- it is that personal, an extension of you, if you will. To anyone reading that actually has children (or someone you love deeply and unequivocally) know when someone goes after your kid with an insult or taunt or some form of wrong doing? And you know how any parent worth their salt goes into,"Oh no you didn't just wrong my child" mode? And there just may be claws that come out to protect our young?


Sometimes a critique feels like that. "Oh no you didn't just rip my book/baby apart!"

But wait, didn't I title this post The Power of Critique???? Oh yes I did.

You know that saying, "With age comes wisdom" ?? I'd like to tweak it, for today's purposes, to: "With time spent as a writer, with eyes and ears wide open...comes wisdom."

I remember getting so defensive after my first go on Miss Snark's First, I got angry. And I got into it with one or two critique'rs. They were "attacking" my baby.

The thing is, there was power in that critique. I had to step aside and open my eyes and open my ears. See. Listen. There is power in every critique. Do the snarky/bitchy ones hurt? Why yes they do. But if you pull back the snark and get to the heart of what is actually being said, 9 times out of 10 you will find something of value. Something that just might make your writing/scene/dialogue/character stronger...better...

Will you agree with every word of every critique. Hell no. And that is okay too. It's okay for you to stand strong with parts of your writing because you believe in them. However, if you repeatedly hear the same bit of critique, then, maybe it's time you...see...listen.

No matter where you are in your journey, I can not tell you how crucial it is to align yourself with fellow writers that you trust and respect. Form an online crit group. Ask for people to beta. Get people to read your work...industry people. Go to conferences. Put your work out there again and again and again and again. Enter contests.

Take the heat.

Roll your sleeves up and get knee deep with the world/characters you created.

A good critique isn't nice sometimes but never rude. A good critique pushes your characters to be true to themselves. A good critique wants scenes to flow better and pacing to be tighter and tension built up more in places. A good critique shows you when you've nailed it, or you've given the reader chills...made them cry...made them feel for your characters. A good critique wants your manuscript to be the best it can possibly be.

There is power in that.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

First Novel = First Child

My good friend and coaching colleague made the best analogy after hearing me kvetch about how mind-taxing my latest round of revisions have been. Like my brain literally hurt. But I do love a challenge.

She said, "That book is like your child."

And I said, "Yeah, and my "child" is in its rebellious teenage years."

She smiled and said, "And sometimes, you just want to quit on them don't you? But you can't and you won't because they're your kid. And you have to just love them through it."

She's one smart cookie.

The book of which I type is my very first novel, written in April of 2008. And then tweaked a grand total of 28 times -- you know, consistency issues, typos, small lines added/removed. And then seriously revised a grand total of 7 times on top of that -- you know entire scenes added, dialogue rewritten, entire scenes removed, brand new beginning.

I love this book. I love my MC and her best friend. I love my story.

Well, as I said in my last post -- you know the one from a week ago -- I've been thick in agent suggested revisions. And I "finished" a readable draft last night at 9:17 p.m. My two uber-kind beta readers will have a polished book to read by tonight...hopefully.

So, my adolescent novel was unruly at first, testing me, wouldn't mind me, punishment didn't even have an affect. I tried "calm cool reasoning" and even a raised voice. But you know what soothed the teenage beast? Consistency.

I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote until I was "done".

What an adventure this writing thing has been...from word one.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Twitter Blow Out...Tomorrow

I am fired up about a certain topic and I plan to EXPLODE all over Twitter tomorrow. I've already typed up my many, many tweets in preparation for the unloading.

I've even created a new hashtag. You'll see.

This topic has been near and dear to my heart since, oh I don't know, since forever.
This topic has the potential to fire me up to the point of action and it always has.
This topic has gotten me to write plays, organize fundraisers, generate discussions, plan lessons, piss people off, write books, sing songs, write songs, write poems. And other stuff.

This topic is all over the news.

This topic will be all over my Twitter page. Tomorrow.

Check it out here:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Revolutionary...BOOK

A teacher from where I coach sent me this link yesterday and I thought it so clever I had to share.

A tiny blog disclaimer:
The reason for my lack o' blogging? I am thick, like double dark chocolate icing thick, in revisions on book 1 of my MG sci-fi trilogy. The best kind of revisions...agent suggested revisions. The woman, quite frankly, is a genius.

That is all.